Macy and Anna Save Candyland Bite 17
Who can be Trusted?
After an eternity, or maybe it was just twenty minutes, Prince Hershey came to the clearing again.
"They're all asleep," he announced as worked to get his father's cage open. King Kandy slumped against his son in relief.
"Hershey, how did you know to come?"
"There's time enough for explanations later," Hershey replied setting his father upright and moving to unlatch Alexander's cage. He and Alexander worked on opening all the doors.
"Hurry, and move quietly," Hershey said when they were all free. "Follow me. The sleeping medicine will work for a time, but it won't be long before they are after us."
They quickly and quietly made their way to the road. The moon shone through the tree cover, making patches of light, then dark, then light again in a quilt of night. Anna moved through the group until she walked shoulder to shoulder with Hershey.
"I'm Anna," she said.
"Nice to meet you," He made a little bow and kept walking.
"You don't happen to usually wear blue, do you?" She asked, a germ of an idea in her mind.
"Yes, I do have a favorite blue shirt. I packed it for this trip. It's in my pack, I couldn’t get it to fit under this ninja outfit." He had removed his black ninja mask, but was still wearing the traditional close fitting, long sleeved dobok of a ninja.
"How long have you been following us?" Anna demanded. "You will tell me. What purpose could you possibly have had for following us all around?"
"What are you talking about?" Hershey said.
"I'm talking about you following us, creeping around our campsites in the dark, and threatening me and my sister! Do you deny it? Are you calling me a liar?" Anna voice rose into a noise resembling a door that need oiling. The whole company slowed and soon Anna and Hershey were at the center of the whole group. Anna stood, hands on hips, staring, well, glaring, at Hershey. Hershey, for his part, stood calmly with a glint of amusement in his eyes. "I insist you answer me." Anna was nearly shouting now.
"Alright," he replied. "This is as good a time as any to explain things. My father looks as though he could use a rest. Let's sit down over there," he pointed to a group of rocks along the roadside. "I will explain everything."
"Several months ago, after your father died, and mine began making plans for his Great Birthday Party, I began to suspect that Prince Bazooka had changed. He no longer confided in me, or sought me out to go hunting or riding. I decided to do a little investigating. At first, I did it all in secret, not knowing what I may find, or who would be involved. Sorry, Father, but for a time, I suspected everybody." He cast an apologetic glance at his father. King Kandy merely nodded in return and signaled with a wave of his hand that Hershey ought to continue. "It wasn't long before I figured out about Bazooka's adoption and his true father being Lord Licorice. When I discovered this, I contacted your servant, Peter, for his assistance. I knew he had been trusted with finding the traitor who revealed your father's position, and I felt I could trust him. I had met him several times before, and he seemed a solid person." Peter gave a little bow and Hershey continued. 'We agreed that a malicious plan was being put into play, and we determined to see what we could do about it. I knew that it must be something in conjunction with Father's birthday. When the two of you," he gestured to Macy and Anna. "decided to come to the party, Peter and I decided to use the opportunity to continue our investigation. More importantly, I knew you would need protection on your trip. We arranged several meeting places along the route and agreed that I would remain in the shadows, and only come to your aid if necessary."
"What about the first ninja attack on Gumdrop Mountain?" accused Anna. "Where were you then?" She wasn't sure what to think anymore, but certainly wasn't going to just roll over and let Prince Hershey snow her.
"Well, it looked like you had it under control, so I stayed back. You and your sister are quite the team. I was vey impressed." Anna allowed herself to thaw a little bit. "Though I confess, when the two of you began inching toward the edge of the cliff, I nearly ran out of my hiding spot and grabbed the bag for you."
"We nearly died!" Anna slugged him in the arm. "We almost fell off that cliff."
"If it weren't for your quick thinking and your sister's cool head, you would've gone over, that's for sure," he replied. "I'm glad you did not. May I continue?" Anna nodded, begrudgingly.
"I believe the instance you referred to as me threatening you and your sister was a time I met Peter not long after the mountains. Peter warned me that you were getting suspicious and that you make a very good spy. I felt it was safer for you to be unaware of my presence. Peter agreed to 'take care of you,' in other words, to direct your attention elsewhere. We decided that if you figured out that someone was on your tail, we would come clean, but that in the meantime, it was best for me to work in the shadows until we could uncover what Lord Licorice had planned."
"What about the first time we were locked in cages, with the gummy bear prowling beneath us? Where were you then?" Anna played her last card.
"I confess, I was farther away than I had intended. I had stopped to interview the guards, Joe and Bob, in the licorice forest. By the time I arrived where you were, your brothers had already come and vanquished the bear."
"Luckily for us," Anna retorted, not wanting to give up the fight.
"On the contrary, Princess," Hershey responded with a quiet look of dissent. "I don't believe luck had anything to do with it. I've been praying for your safety on this journey for quite some time now. I know Peter and your mother are doing the same. Please, let's be friends." Hershey stuck out his hand with a smile. Anna sighed and said,
"I suppose I can forgive you for the secrecy, but next time let us in on the spying. I'm really quite good at it." She took his hand and they shook.
"Well, now that you know the story, I think we should move on. We have a ways to go before we reach the castle. I think it would be best if we rest some tonight as well. We don't know what we will encounter when we arrive." Hershey seemed to have taken over as leader of their traveling group. No one seemed to mind.